A wedding venue is often one of the top vendors on a bride and grooms list. It is where you get to start your celebration of marriage amongst your family and friends. The location and food choices will make a lasting impression for many of your guests for years to come. It is important to keep in mind your wedding venue selection can also enhance your wedding photography experience. I will discuss several key factors to consider in choosing the right wedding venue to make your wedding vision come to fruition.
There are three important factors to consider in choosing your wedding venue: overall wedding budget, wedding venue’s ranking in your list of wedding priorities, and wedding venue budget. I recommend using a budget calculator, such as the one provided on the Knot: https://www.theknot.com/wedding-budget/start. Having a predetermined wedding venue budget prior to visiting a venue will help keep you from falling in love with a venue outside of your price range. You also need to give consideration to whether your wedding venue will provide the ability to host your wedding ceremony or if you want a separate location for your ceremony and reception.
The overall look for your wedding venue will be represented in your wedding photography as well. It is important to realize a more expensive wedding venue does not necessarily mean it is more beautiful or will lend to better wedding photographs. The way a wedding venue is decorated is a key factor in expressing it’s luxuriousness. Be sure to ask if decorations are done for you and if you are allowed to bring in your own decorations to add your own special touch, if that is something you are interested in pursuing. A less expensive wedding venue decorated appropriately can provide the same caliber of wedding photographs from a wow factor as a more expensive wedding venue. It is possible to stay within your overall budget and still get the space you want for your wedding day.
Although it may take some time to finalize your guest list, you should have a good idea of your preliminary guest count prior to choosing your wedding venue. It is better to error on the side of caution and over estimate how many guests you have than to add people later on to your list and then realize your wedding venue cannot accommodate the additional guests. If you have family helping to fund your wedding, be honest with them in regards to the size of a wedding guest list you are looking to have. Honesty up front will help the process run more smoothly in the end. Remember to prioritize your wedding day desires. If you value a large wedding guests lists, you may have to consider a less expensive wedding venue to accommodate the larger group and food and drink costs. On the other hand, if you value the intimacy of a small wedding gathering, you may be able to have a larger budget allotted to your wedding venue.
When you meet with the wedding coordinator at the wedding venues you visit, ask what is all included with booking that particular wedding venue. Some wedding venues merely provide space, meaning you have to supply everything from the tables and chairs to the tableware. Many wedding venues have the ability to provide essentials beyond the basics, including centerpieces and chair covers. However, these are often at an added expense. Bring your vision and details for decorating the venue to the discussion with the wedding coordinator prior to booking the venue so you can identify the full costs of the venue. The costs beyond the weddings space alone can add up quickly. Also, many venues only work with certain vendors for supplying food, drink, and dessert.
As a part of this blog series, I have been highlighting unique wedding vendors around my home base of St. Louis, Missouri. I spent some time visiting with Amber Daniels who is the Special Events Manager at Stifel Theatre. Stifel Theatre is a historic theater venue located in downtown St. Louis. The building was built in 1934 and most of what you will see in the building is original to the space. The Stifel Theatre has three different types of spaces they offer for wedding venues. There are three different options for weddings that can fit into most wedding budgets. They include two ballrooms on either side of the theater, the main theater, and the grand lobby, with can seat up to 340 people on two levels. The space is very open and has that vintage 1930s-40’s vibe that has so much charm. This space has countless opportunities for a wedding photographer to produce amazing images. I put together a short video showcasing the space and Ambers five tips for choosing the right wedding venue. The link to the video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fECxF2mIfoE. You can also check out the Stifel Theatre’s web page at http://www.stifeltheatre.com.
A wedding venue is important when it comes to wedding photography. As a wedding photographer, it is common to photograph numerous different weddings at the same venue throughout your career. I take this as a personal challenge to provide my clients with creative and unique images that fit their particular style and desires, regardless of the number of times I have shot at that location. On the other hand, photographers are sometimes blessed with an opportunity to shoot at venues where very limited number of weddings occur each year or the location is on the couples family’s or friends property. In these cases of uncharted territory for the wedding photographer, allowing the wedding photographer access to the venue ahead and allowing he or she to explore the space prior to the wedding can greatly enhance the creative quality of your images.
Remember your wedding venue goes beyond a space for you and your guests to celebrate your marriage. It will provide the background for many of your photographs from your wedding. When you are visiting venues, always keep an eye out for spaces that you think might make good images and run these ideas by your wedding photographer. It is a good idea to take pictures of any ideal spaces within the venue you wish photographs to be taken and providing them to your photographer. This will allow them to brainstorm even before arriving to the venue, if they are not able to visit it on their own beforehand.
As you dive into your wedding planning adventure, keep in mind that your budget and vendor priorities will determine where you start the planning process. Be prepared when meeting with the wedding coordinator at the venue with questions detailing how they can make their venue into your desired wedding spot. Consider the entirety the venue must accommodate, including guests lists, food/drink/dessert options, and what is included versus extra (table/chairs, tableware, center pieces, etc). Also, if you have already chosen your wedding photographer, ask them their opinion because chances are they have worked in several of the venues and be a valued resource. If you should have questions at all, please reach out to me at www.andrewjosephportriats.com. I look forward to working with you on your wedding day.